Following the coronavirus outbreak and during the ensuing lockdowns, large numbers of young adults went home to live with their parents. Given that the pandemic remains ongoing, many of them are still there, either by choice or obligation, at a time when the new academic year is about to begin. However, the growing prevalence of over-18s living with their parents has not solely been prompted by covid-19.
On August 7, the Singaporean business school in which Arthur is enrolled re-opened. However, given the uncertainty due to the planetary health crisis, the French 22-year-old has not returned to the island city state, but is instead remotely attending classes from France, which is not always easy. "It's difficult to follow classes from a distance because of the time difference. In addition, I haven't worked on anything for a few months and my brain is at a standstill," explains Arthur.
In France, universities have re-opened for face-to-face tuition, but with the caveat that it may soon be suspended and a pledge that online classes will be available if the situation demands. From September 4, at the University of Paris 8 for example, teachers will be offered training modules to better prepare the transition from face-to-face to online courses.
More than a quarter of universities in the United States have also opted to conduct courses that are almost exclusively online, restricting the number of students on campus to specific categories, for example, those who have jobs there. "With the pandemic, I went home to my parents, and followed classes at the University remotely. It was very strange, I felt like I was back in high school. I don't know how this fall is going to pan out," remarks Canadian student Daphné.
A not-so-recent phenomenon
"We're not used to living together, and we don't meet that often. After I left for university in another country, we became accustomed to not seeing much of each other, and things more or less stayed like that. Being here takes a bit of getting used to, right now we are trying to see each other for lunch or dinner," explains Daphné. For Arthur the transition has been more positive: "moving back has worked out fine." After four years of living alone, the change does not seem to bother him. "I have a good laugh with my parents," he concludes.
This trend, which may be reinforced by the health crisis, has been apparent for quite a few years. A 2020 French national survey found that 3.3 million young adults in the 18-24 age group live with their parents or in someone else's home, and that the number of people in this situation has been rising steadily since the 2000s. Meanwhile in the US, a Zillow report indicated that nearly 3 million young adults moved back in with their family "in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic" as of June, and that numbers of US adults living with a parent or grandparent as of April totaled 32 million, up 9.7% from the same period a year earlier.
Causes other than the health crisis
The ongoing health crisis has led to more young adults staying with their parents, however, there are other enduring reasons for this phenomenon. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan who conducted a 10-year study published in January 2020 found that inter-generational living is increasingly the norm in today's society. As to why this is the case, the study cited multiple factors that may encourage people to move back to live with parents or delay their departure from the family home. These included the emergence of technologies that allow young people to maintain constant contact with their peers, a gloomy economic climate that favors co-residency for financial reasons, lifestyle issues like addictions and events like divorce.